If the taco was never invented and you asked a chef if a small, fried corn or flour tortilla stuffed with fillingcould become an American culinary mainstay, he or she would probably say no. But it did. The taco evolved from a food invention introduced by Mexican miners to a crunchy American favorite.

According to the Real Academia Espanola, taco describes a traditional Mexican dish of one or two corn tortillas wrapped around food. The origin of the word taco could be literally translated to mean "plug" or something used to fill a hole. The taco is thought to have been invented by Mexican silver miners who developed and used explosives in "plug" form. The miners "plugs" consisted of paper wrapped around gun powder. It was the plug explosives form that food historians believe lead the minors to create the taco as a light lunch. A small amount of spicy or "explosive" meat wrapped up in a "paper" tortilla to "plug" the hole in their rumbling stomachs.

From the beginning of the early part of the twentieth century, tacos have been popular in the United States. Tacos can come in many forms, filled with any number of ingredients. Hard or soft shell tacos can be filled with spiced beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, sausage, or cheese. Common taco toppings include avocado, salsa, sour cream, cilantro, onion, and tomato. The style of taco that has become most popular is the hard-shell, U-shaped fried tortilla. Mass production of this type of taco hit the American food loving public and the most popular Mexican food in America was born. 

Today, Americans have a number of options when it comes to pleasing their Mexican food cravings. Regardless if you intend to buy tacos from a street vendor or from an established restaurant, one fact about Mexican food always rings true. It's got to be fresh.

Cafe Rio, a well-loved Mexican restaurant chain originally founded in Salt Lake City, Utah uses only fresh ingredients. Cafe Rio specializes in cuisine from the Rio Grande Valley of Mexico, Texas, and New Mexico. The primarily Western United States restaurant group, although new locations have opened in Maryland and Virginia, has developed a strong following of fans that have been searching for reasonably priced, true Mexican food.

Using authentic ingredients and traditional techniques, Cafe Rio offers traditional Mexican food favorites such as enchiladas, quesadillas, tostadas, burritos, and, of course, tacos made with fresh, handmade tortillas. In addition to Cafe Rio's locations, the Mexican food restaurants offer catering, party packages, takeout, and online ordering.